Movie Review: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Geez, you gotta draw the line somewhere _____ 2/10
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright

Screenplay by Kelly Masterson
Directed by Sidney Lumet

Philip Seymour Hoffman … Andy Hanson
Ethan Hawke … Henry ‘Hank’ Hanson
Albert Finney … Charles Hanson
Marisa Tomei … Gina Hanson

“Nobody was supposed to get hurt.”

What do you say about a movie everyone loves—Rotten Tomatoes gives it 88% critics, 74% community—but everything that makes any sense to you at all says this emperor wears absolutely no clothes? That’s how I feel about Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. From the graphic opening scene (“Awe, man, we shouldn’t have to see this.”)—which supporters can properly argue goes to the essence of the principal character Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman)—to the final credits, this superbly acted, gold-plated turkey is an unrelenting descent into depravity.  [If I were still a judgmental Randian, I’d have said “descent into moral depravity.”  But this depravity jettisons morality entirely.]

Let me give you the synopsis without giving anything away: Andy Hanson, who is married to Gina Hanson (Marisa Tomei) has a crummy job and issues with his father (Albert Finney).  He basically rationalizes these unhappy circumstances to commit petty larceny from his company, abuse cocaine and crack on a regular basis, and plan a serious jewelry heist.  Hank Hanson (Ethan Hawke), Andy’s screwup brother, is a well-meaning, good-looking young divorced alcoholic with money problems.  For mostly unfathomable reasons Andy decides to cut Hank in on the operations side of the robbery. The movie is all about the deterioration of the characters as a consequence of the (unlikely) plot.

I guess I can tell you the prospects for a happy ending for are slim. Continue reading

Movie Review: Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

Awesome testament of an American holocaust
combined with deep truths of human nature

Snow Fallling on CedarsNels Gudmundsson: It takes a rare thing, a turning point, to free oneself from any obsession. Be it prejudice, or hate, or even love.

Arthur Chambers (dictating a news story): These people are our neighbors, they’ve sent their sons into the United States Army. They’re no more an enemy than our fellow islanders of German descent or Italian descent. Let us live so that when this is over we can look each other in the eye and know that we have acted honorably.

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